Yesterday I met the members of the Ministerial Advisory Group, which provides advice on architecture. The chair is Barrie Todd and other members include Professor Tom Woolley, Alan Strong, Andrew Gault, Marcus Patton and Ian McKnight. Towards the end of last year the group produced a report on Demolition in Conservation Areas, which was sent to the Chief Executive of the Planning Service. This is an issue that is dear to my heart, as I have indicated previously. We have lost too many fine old buildings that contribute to the character of our towns and cities and this is particularly regrettable when it happens in a conservation area.
The members of the group give most generously of their time and expertise and they concentrate on four main areas - heritage, planning policies, sustainability and procurement.
Last October the MAG hosted a successful symposium with the title Raising Sustainability Expectations Symposium. At the end the symposium adopted four resolutions:
- Sustainable development must be fully integrated into Northern Ireland government departments and across society in a structured way.
- Sustainable development should be included in all planning applications and thereby the design reviews.
- Built environment professions should develop more inter-disciplinary workings in the context of sustainability.
- Built environment professions should produce and diisseminate more exemplars of the 'sustainable built environment'.